Issogne Castle is one of the most famous manors of the region, and is located on the right bank of the Dora Baltea. As a seigniorial residence of the Renaissance, the Castle has quite a different look from that of the austere Verrès Castle, which is located in Verrès, on the opposite bank of the river.
Issogne Castle is most noteworthy for its fountain in the form of pomegranate tree and its highly decorated portico, a rare example of medieval Alpine painting, with its frescoed cycle of scenes of daily life from the late Middle Ages.
The earliest mention of the castle of Issogne is in a Papal bull issued by Pope Eugene III in 1151. Some walling discovered in the cellars of the current castle may be evidence of a Roman villa, dating from the 1st century BC, on the site.
The castle was restored in the 15th century by Ibleto of Challant. The current appearance developed between 1490 and 1510 under George of Challant, who transformed it into a luxurious residence for his cousin Margaret de La Chambre and her son Philibert. These works transformed Issogne castle into a luxurious Renaissance residence.
After various owners, it was bought by the artist Vittorio Avondo in 1872 who restored it and donated it to the State in 1907. Today the castle belongs to the autonomous Region of Aosta Valley.References:
The Broch of Gurness is an Iron Age broch village. Settlement here began sometime between 500 and 200 BC. At the centre of the settlement is a stone tower or broch, which once probably reached a height of around 10 metres. Its interior is divided into sections by upright slabs. The tower features two skins of drystone walls, with stone-floored galleries in between. These are accessed by steps. Stone ledges suggest that there was once an upper storey with a timber floor. The roof would have been thatched, surrounded by a wall walk linked by stairs to the ground floor. The broch features two hearths and a subterranean stone cistern with steps leading down into it. It is thought to have some religious significance, relating to an Iron Age cult of the underground.
The remains of the central tower are up to 3.6 metres high, and the stone walls are up to 4.1 metres thick. The tower was likely inhabited by the principal family or clan of the area but also served as a last resort for the village in case of an attack.
The broch continued to be inhabited while it began to collapse and the original structures were altered. The cistern was filled in and the interior was repartitioned. The ruin visible today reflects this secondary phase of the broch's use.
The site is surrounded by three ditches cut out of the rock with stone ramparts, encircling an area of around 45 metres diameter. The remains of numerous small stone dwellings with small yards and sheds can be found between the inner ditch and the tower. These were built after the tower, but were a part of the settlement's initial conception. A 'main street' connects the outer entrance to the broch. The settlement is the best-preserved of all broch villages.
Pieces of a Roman amphora dating to before 60 AD were found here, lending weight to the record that a 'King of Orkney' submitted to Emperor Claudius at Colchester in 43 AD.
At some point after 100 AD the broch was abandoned and the ditches filled in. It is thought that settlement at the broch continued into the 5th century AD, the period known as Pictish times. By that time the broch was not used anymore and some of its stones were reused to build smaller dwellings on top of the earlier buildings. Until about the 8th century, the site was just a single farmstead.
In the 9th century, a Norse woman was buried at the site in a stone-lined grave with two bronze brooches and a sickle and knife made from iron. Other finds suggest that Norse men were buried here too.